Review by horror_spooky
This episode of Telltale's The Walking Dead nearly nailed it. I've had my complaints about the previous two episodes, but Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead was finally starting to show me the big deal bout this episodic point-and-click adventure game. Then I ran into a game-breaking bug that forced me to purchase and download the subsequent episode on my 360 for a fix, and my feelings sort of settled down a bit.
Long Road Ahead's opening moments are intense and exciting. Players make important choices right off the bat this time around, instead of having to slog through 15 to 20 minutes of recapping for those that weren't paying attention before. An action-packed opening keeps Long Road Ahead moving at a breakneck pace, though it stops to take time for a few more traditional puzzle and environment exploration segments, akin to classics of the genre.
A New Day and Starved for Help both were constantly trying new things in the genre, and it was refreshing for Long Road Ahead to feature more classic style point-and-click gameplay. This episode also forces players to interact with the other characters more in order to gather information and solve puzzles, which was not really needed that much in the previous episodes, making the actual process of interacting with the other characters seem more like filler than essential to the story.
Shocking moments are aplenty in this episode as well, as well as pretty strong emotional developments. Long-term player choice starts to become more apparent in this episode, with decisions made episodes prior returning to rear their head at key moments in this episode. Unfortunately, I am afraid that these episodes are going to go the route of the TV show and start killing off characters as soon as they become interesting, and there is a bit of that going on in this episode.
All that being said, the writing here is just so much better than the first two episodes. Characters interact with each other and react to one another in a much more realistic fashion. Character traits are made more obvious and are recognized by other characters. For example, my hatred for Duck being annoying in the first episode is given a big spotlight in this episode, as Lee's reactions to Duck's hyper nature shows that he hates the little brat just as much as I do. In fact, Lee's actions and the way the characters react to him in this episode really made me feel like I had made an impact in the universe of this game, which is something I haven't felt in the episodes prior.
In fact, I remember making decisions in the first episode, only to have the exact opposite outcome occur. Long Road Ahead saw certain events and conversations occur that I purposely tried to build toward based on my choices in the other episodes. It was nice to see how my choices were carried over from episode to episode and how they are finally starting to matter more as the game progresses.
Better dialogue, intense action sequences, and better puzzles help this episode out a lot. Unfortunately, there is a severe bug in this episode that brings it back down a notch. I am speaking of a certain glitch that happens near the end of the episode which, as I stated in the opening paragraph, forced me to purchase episode 4 in the series, download it, turn off my 360, and then return to the game to fix. I lost a healthy 20 minutes of playtime during this process due to the weak auto-save functionality of the game.
Visually, Long Road Ahead seemed more detailed than the previous episodes, with brighter colors, improved animation and lip-synching, and a lot less lag and rough transitions. Don't get me wrong, the game still has its fair share of awkward freezes and the like that hamper the immersion, but it is definitely improved over the first two episodes.
I also want to point out that Long Road Ahead marks the second time that this game series has directly copied a plot twist or moment from the comic book/TV series, which is a bummer. Granted, Starved for Help was just a collection of horror movie cliches, but Long Road Ahead was on such a roll until a certain plot twist that just felt lazy due to the fact it was ripped from other Walking Dead media. This also makes the canon look weird since same exact events are happening to multiple survivor groups.
Long Road Ahead showed how competent this series can be from a storytelling perspective, but the technical difficulties hold it back from achieving greatness. I thought that this episode was a marked improvement over the previous entries by miles, but it suffers from more technical issues than the previous entries as well, which holds it back. Long Road Ahead left me with an overall optimistic impression of the series and with excitement to play the next entry.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/12
Game Release: The Walking Dead: Episode 3 - Long Road Ahead (US, 08/29/12)
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